You’ve seen the commercials and you’ve heard the claims. Collagen, Q-10, retinol … all touted to combat the signs of aging. Can these “miracle creams” really eliminate your wrinkles?
Could the fountain of youth come in a jar? Depending on the ingredients in your anti-aging cream, you might be able to see some promising results.
Over-the-counter wrinkle removers can do some of the things they claim to do – on a modest scale. Prescription-strength preparations can provide results that are even more impressive. How do you know, though, which ones to trust and just how much youth they’ll restore to your skin? A look at the key ingredients may help you decide.
Collagen: Protein that keeps skin firm and gives it elasticity. As we age, we produce less of it, causing wrinkles to occur. It probably sounds reasonable that a skin cream containing collagen would return your skin to its prior supple, elastic state. However, collagen isn’t absorbed through the skin, so spreading it on your face won’t restore it or help your body produce more of it. It will moisturize your skin, though.
Alpha-, beta- and poly-hydroxy acids: Acids that exfoliate dead skin and encourage the growth of clear, smooth skin. They also stimulate collagen production, lighten dark spots, help detach dead skin cells and fight acne.
Co-enzyme Q-10: A naturally occurring antioxidant present in the skin. More research is needed, but it appears to reduce wrinkles around the eyes, soften and firm skin, slow down the aging process and protect skin from sun damage.
Vitamin C: Although it’s effectiveness has yet to be proven, vitamin C creams may reduce fine lines and wrinkles and lessen the severity of sunburn.
Vitamin E: Antioxidant found in the skin. When we lose vitamin E, we gain wrinkles. Some studies have shown that these preparations slightly reduce wrinkles, improve the softness of skin and may protect against sun damage.
Retinol: Derived from vitamin A, it contains antioxidants that fight wrinkles. The amount of retinol in each preparation varies, so you don’t know how much you’re getting. Some creams contain very little.
Although some of these preparations may be somewhat effective, the improvements won’t be dramatic. Many of these ingredients can cause itching, redness or skin irritation. Pregnant women should avoid retinol because it can increase the risk of birth defects.
Retinoids come from vitamin A. Retinol is a retinoid used in over-the-counter skin preparations. Prescription-strength retinoids, however, are much more powerful and are used to treat sun damage, wrinkles, psoriasis and even skin cancer. These preparations can be prescribed by your dermatologist.
Known by the brand name Renova, tretinoin – a retinoid – improves the effects of acne, sun damage, fine lines, brown spots and roughness. It helps produce collagen and lightens age spots.
Possible side effects of tretinoin are sensitivity to the sun, redness, dry skin and stinging or burning. If you use tretinoin, avoid the sun and wear sunscreen with an SPF of greater than 15 when outdoors. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, check with your doctor.
Be prepared to wait…
Don’t expect overnight results with tretinoin. It can take weeks or even months for lines to smooth out and age spots to diminish. You will, however, notice subtle changes in the look and feel of your skin as time passes.